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_Ben_

[FM20] Tequila and Mariachi?

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December 2028/January 2029

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The good form keeps on going and, with just the one (expected) blemish at the end of the month, we have really fired ourselves into a position whereby anything other than the title would be a disappointment and anything other than promotion would be a travesty.

The goals are again being shared out but it was club icon Brian Pena who struck three times against an under-strength but still very good Atleti side but we couldn't repeat that performance in the next round, even though we did take Real to extra time.

A cup run in the past few years has always made January a tough month and, as such, we have always faltered come February. We are in a great position and we must now capitalise on it and pick up as many points as we can.

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Scouting missions are continuing as I look to find players who are potentially going to be interested in joining a newly-promoted team next year. The initial focus is on South American talent but largely not from Brazil or Argentina (although I've found a cracking couple of fullbacks who certainly fit my description from Brazil) and I'm ensuring that I can save every penny to give myself the largest transfer budget that I can.

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Big fan of Septien getting a hat-trick and you pushing Real to the limit again.

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15 hours ago, wesl said:

Big fan of Septien getting a hat-trick and you pushing Real to the limit again.

I'm really growing to like Septien. He's the third academy graduate to really become a solid first team player after Miguel Angel Villalba and Alberto Ropero, who are actually both really good. Septien, below, isn't as good across the board and his finishing is actually quite weak - yet he seems to get into good positions and score goals. He is a real example of playing his way into the team - he came in for the injured Penalillo and his form caused me to sell the Chilean. It's always sweeter when I end with a €2m profit and a first team player from my academy.

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Edited by _Ben_

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February/March 2029

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A little hit and miss over the past two months but, with the lead that we have already accrued, we haven't jeopardised our potential successes. January, as mentioned, took it out of the team and some, what I thought was clever rotation, saw us fail to win either of the first two games against mid-table opposition. A defeat against Leganes at the end of February had me worried, given the way they sliced through our tired defence in the last half hour - scoring three but probably deserving more.

March was somewhat better but a poor performance away at Sevilla cost us the points. Although we have a lot more goals from elsewhere - we are still evidently far less incisive when Pena is having a bad day. At this level, these have been few and far between but I do need a plan B for next year, which, all being well, won't be at this level.

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Above is the current squad that I am using and, with the addition of Marlon Lucas, who joins in the summer - will be the squad that I hopefully start La Liga with. Highlighted are the group of players who I feel need time out on loan (Lucas does, too) next year, hopefully at the level that we are playing now. I feel that, on the whole, the idea to give the younger players experience this season has paid off - they are much improved and now probably good enough for this level and we have been able to perform well with them.

This essentially leaves me with a shopping list of:

  • A Right back (but could be a winger conversion). Required to be fast and technical with at least average defensive attributes.
  • A left back - see above.
  • A centre back, good enough with the ball at his feet to assist with transitions.
  • A half back (but could be a NCB/CD conversion). Ideally, really tall and good at breaking up possession.
  • Central midfielder. Ideally an all rounder but certainly a creator wouldn't go a miss.
  • A right winger. Needs to work really hard in what will essentially be a more defensive role than normal.
  • An attacking midfielder (but could be a ST conversion). Backup for Pena, at this point. Ideally hugely experienced but willing to sit on the bench.

Then, and only then, can I look at improving areas of my current squad - with Lazaro, Willian Santos and Eduardo Berro all on the list of potential replacements.

I need to start looking now (although this is hard to identify the correct players given that they, clearly, aren't interested until we achieve promotion. I also want to sign players who are ready, or at their peak of their careers, allowing me to make the decision on which player to retain when the youngster's loans have finished.

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2028/29

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A poor intake that comes at a time whereby youth players will have a hard enough journey into the first team. I've not screenshotted any of these initially but I may use the tracker next year for the top few.

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2028/29 End of Season Review

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A truly wonderful season, one of my best in fact, in terms of pure enjoyment at watching what I'd created unfold. We were, by far, the best team in the division - as noted by our goal difference and setting a new LaLiga123 points record. The final months saw us smash Alaves 8-1 and then proceed to throw some points away, maybe making the only blot on our season - our inability to hit 100 points, a target that I don't think I have ever reached in Football Manager. The absence of any B clubs really posing a challenge made the season more difficult for us - given that they increase the amount of promotion slots and often beat the teams around me - but we had enough about ourselves to do this alone. 

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From a playing perspective - we have performed really well although have become slightly dependent on largely the same eleven but this is somewhat down to keeping a winning team together. Pablo Fernandes has been an absolute delight to watch, playing in the RPM(s) role as, essentially, a Free 8. He plays next to a Mezzala, usually Puigmal or Berro but has really shone with his ability to create more than a chance per game. His creativity has been shared somewhat with Juan Jose Septien, who, over the season, has grown into the AML position and made the sale of Penalillo much easier. He's, I think, the only player, aside from Brian Pena, to reach the 15 goal mark at the second level of Spanish football for us. Below shows how important he's been:

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Elsewhere, Sergi Puig has, once again played every minute of football and, once again, shown that he is good enough to play at the top level. One bit of immense joy on FM19 was getting a player to 1000 career games and, sadly, the transfer of Puig will probably stop that being repeated - given that it's going to be pretty much impossible to give a 16-year old first team football in La Liga. Never the less, he has six to eight years left I'd say and he'll certainly improve on his 301 league games for us.

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Some interesting news regarding the stadium - but I knew that ours was too small for La Liga, anyway.

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This summer is going to be massive, but I'm looking forward to it!

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Big summer ahead, look forward to seeing how you tackle the lengthy list of transfer needs.

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Congrats on promotion. I'm looking forward to what's in store now that you are in the big leagues.

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8 hours ago, tyler16 said:

Big summer ahead, look forward to seeing how you tackle the lengthy list of transfer needs.

 

8 hours ago, kidthekid said:

Congrats on promotion. I'm looking forward to what's in store now that you are in the big leagues.

Thanks both, and thanks for your continued investment with my save!

I've gone into the summer with a decent plan but, once again, feel that I probably should have done a little more background work before we got to this point. The good news is that the media doesn't predict us to come last...

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Congrats on promotion! I caught up with reading.

I am really interested in your Transfer moves to come.

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Analysing the squad

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Using my somewhat basic approach to rating the player, I have a decent view of just how good the players are for what I want from them and how deep (or not) the squad depth is. Sadly, FM is not at a point where it could translate the numbers to coloured blocks on other screens, such as a customised home view, so I have to do this myself - meaning that I've probably made an error somewhere.

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The first thing to notice here is the sheer lack of depth. Three central midfielders, three defenders and two wingers, plus no backup should Brian Pena get injured. I am, fortunately, blessed with a lot of versatility, something that I have always insisted upon in the squad building process. However - the squad lacks quality throughout - and even my rating system can pick up that there is a whole host of players who, across the board, do not average highly based on their attributes (but this is largely an initial judgement - Paolo Fernandes is amonst my best players yet only has a 'half full' circle and Berro, Lazaro, Carlos Alberto and Angel are two footed so their attributes are slightly skewed anyway).

Looking at the attributes, a Mezzala that can't finish, a full back that can't tackle, a winger with average technique? These are things that I need to look at, in combination with the big picture of their historical performances for me compared with what is available on the market, at what cost, before I sign new players.

However - I have decided to run each possible signing through a little flowchart to make sure that they are the right player I need:

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To break this down - we are still working really hard on creating a style of football and this won't change, even going from the top of one league to the bottom of the next. My scouting team have been working hard to find people who's base attributes in A,D,C,D and WR (see image) are at least good (dark green on attribute screen). The next check is that if the player is experienced - I have a whole bunch of youngsters who I am loaning out and, if the player has a similar amount of top flight experience as they do (which is none), then there is little point splashing out any money to replace them. Obviously, a player who is playing at a top club in Spain compared to a player who's experience is in the top flight of Botswana is a different story - but it's a start. Next up, I want players who are at their peak unless they fit into somewhat of a 'marquee' signing. We don't play a physical game but our high line and our compactness (as you'd get with a strikerless formation) and our fluidity of play means that the players need to be fast to move back into positions - I can have a lad with no legs, unless he's a Xavi-esque player and always finds time on the ball. The last criteria is my fault - bringing in Marlon Lucas and wanting to loan him out immediately was a silly idea and that means I have too many non-EU players and I've had to loan out  Sandro Henrique, the left back I signed last year who played really well. Therefore, the signings, at this point - need to be EU or good enough to displace a current holder of a non-EU spot.

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Therefore - based on probability of acquisition and need of replacement, my shopping list is as follows:

Right Winger:

Lazaro was signed three years back for €105k from Huesca and has no top flight experience. He's two footed and has good anticipation, decisions, determination and work rate and decent concentration. His average rating, over the three years in the division, has always been below the squad average and, he hasn't contributed too as much as I'd like to attacking output over his time at the club.

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I have a number of targets in mind here but none of whom fit in with the EU part. I also believe that I will have to spend a considerable amount of my budget to bring in the type of player that fits the bill here.

 

Full Back

Willian Santos has been left behind a little by the club, a valued servant but really a third tier player who has slowly seen his playing time diminish and his role as a team leader disappear. He's not too bad across the board, except for having a weak left foot, which has let him down against a strong winger. Unfortunately, I don't have a player who I've established would improve this part of the team yet, however, it is vitally important that I do so.

Central Midfielder

Puigmal and Fernandes were good last year and Berro is a decent deputy but I've got three players who would be marquee signings and are all available, 32 year old Dani Ceballos, 33 year old Marco Asensio and 31 year old Carles Alena. The latter is the most likely to sign based on wage demands but he would be the only one that would cost me money, as he's currently looking for a new challenge from Vallecano. They are all over 30 but the Free 8 role would mean that, even as their legs go, they can still influence the game. This is not the highest priority but probably the most likely deal to happen.

Half Back

I currently have nobody lined up for this role. 

Attacking Midfielder

See above.

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Lazaro is the key upgrade and Willian Santos is the key 'will be out of his depth' and I have just over €13m to work with!

This will be fun...

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The signing of Carles Alena is our first real marquee signing and, as important as youth development has and will continue to be for me, marks a really important part of this save. Alena has not quite hit the heights that I'm sure he could do in real life but has maintained a steady career in the top two tiers of Spanish football - yet is still quite the steal for a newly promoted club.

 

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Signing number two of the summer is the big one. Jorge Varela smashes our record transfer for the second time in a month as he makes the switch from Mexico to the top tier of Spain. He's a bit of a diamond in the rough, if I'm honest - a player with such vast honours who was considered an important member of a strong Club America side, available for quite a meagre sum in a league that can, when necessary, charge a pretty penny.

Jorge takes up my last non-EU slot but I feel is a worthwhile investment. I was particularly drawn his versatility, natural on both wings but also accomplished as a full back (and not really out of his depth either) but also incredibly well rounded with excellent technique and work rate. He's 25, which means he should be past the stages of inconsistent performances and his prior experience can only be seen as a bonus for us in this situation.

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What this deal does provide me though is a player who is far more rounded than his predecessor, Lazaro, as seen below:

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Lazaro won't be sold, at this point but with Varela in and Samuel out on loan hoping to gain some good experiences at Castellon in the third tier, I wonder how longer he has left.

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Another one?!

Carlos Sabena is the next major signing and will hopefully complete the defensive line now, with himself, Ropero, Benjamin and Angel (now reverting back to left back until Marlon is ready to take over). I tracked Carlos when we were in LaLiga 123 when he was at Elche but could never afford him. He moved back to Argentina and has been playing well, but not outstandingly, but I felt that he was a risk worth taking. Another one past those formative years whereby he might be a little inconsistent, he's, again, remarkably well rounded and and excellent decision maker with a superb long shot (yet has not scored a single competitive goal in his career!)

I'm really happy with this one.

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Love the signings. Alena looks solid. The yellows bars are in the right places.

Edited by kidthekid

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Youth Progress

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Another good season from a development point of view with two of my youngsters making good progress over the year. Both Antonio and Mendy have made really good development physically, which is surprisingly really as the Treq(A) role doesn't hugely focus on that area of the game. Both players are now at a point where they'll need some exposure to competitive football and will be moved to the B squad with a view to a loan move.

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Transfer roundup

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The easy bit - the outgoings. Only Willian Santos was sold for here, staying in the second tier, which is probably his level. Elsewhere, the loanees Samuel, Jose Angel, Juan Jose Bono, Francisco, Sandro Henrique and Stephen Olawale are all out to add to their taste of first team football, with most staying in LaLiga 123 and hopefully coming back a year better. 

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I have already discussed the three main transfers here: Alena, Varela and Sabena. But, to have recorded a net spend of only -€6m upon my arrival to the top flight, yet to be relatively happy with my transfer dealings is a position that I could have only dreamed of.

Firstly, Jorge Navarro could be a signing that goes way under the radar - he signed on a free from Valencia's B side. A two-footed central defender-come-wingback, he's really quite good on paper. He was one that I had intended to bring in to loan out but, like Lucas, he had no interest in discussing an would go to waste elsewhere. Probably a backup option to this point. The aforementioned Marlon Lucas is next in - a real project at full back but the type of full back that really fits our style. He's pretty much neck and neck with Angel as to who starts at left back but will have competition from Sandro Henrique either in the summer (should I sell a Non-EU player) or in 18 months once he's picked up citizenship. Claudio Pintado fills the next void - a dual DC and HB combo who was a snip at just over €150k from Pumas. Like Varela before him, he has a good pedigree, finishing as a runner up in the CONCACAF Champions League in 2025 and appearing in a strong Mexican side. He's hopefully not got the dirtiness to back up his aggression and bravery but is that stereotypical hard-man that I was after. Andreas Pereira, once a €23.5m signing for Newcastle United joins us for a small fee from relegated Empoli. He's the first real backup player I've had for Pena and, with his ageing legs, will be used as just an impact sub.

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I have assembled a really decent looking squad here. There is a fantastic mix of personalities throughout the squad - all being largely professional and positive and I have continued my slight OCD for signing 'Either' footed players - with ten in the first team. If this doesn't add to my goal of a total football styled approach, I don't know what will! We are strong throughout, with my rudimentary rating system picking out strong players across the spine of the team and no real week areas, except for maybe at centre back. I was watching the Man City documentary on Amazon Prime and it was commented that Pep finds recruiting centre backs the hardest job due to the sheer amount of things they have to do, and I would wholeheartedly agree with that. Ropero is a youth graduate, so my loyalty sways towards him and Benjamin was a fantastic find a few years ago with Alberto looking like he could reach that level but I don't know if I'd class these as potentially going to be world class. Carles Alena stands out as a cut above, as he should for the marquee signing.

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I have always ran with a small first team and, in particular now, feel comfortable doing so given the above information. Given that I play a 4-1-2-3-0 formation (as FM calls it but Pena is clearly just a withdrawn striker) - I need depth in a few areas and I think that I have enough versatility within my squad to be able to cover all areas that I use. The combinations that I can have at DM are fantastic - Villalba and Pintado as HB(s) but Alena or evergreen Perieira as a REG(s), Berro as a RPM(s) or even Ropero as a BWM(d) show that I can adapt to any style. Ahead of them, Alena and Fernandes play in a RPM(s)/MEZ(s) combo but I could have two Free 8's with them, a runner in Berro, an AP(s) in Periera, a CM(d) in Benjamin, for example. The wings are similar - players are largely able to be a W(s) on one side or a IF(s) on the other and the mirror image of the formations allow that to swap and are used in game - which is why I love either footed wingers as their roles can change without their positions.

I feel that this summer has been far removed from the youth development (yet I've actually given them a great chance) but has been the most productive and soul destroying that I've had playing FM, probably ever!

On to the season!

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Could Aleñá play in Peña's role? Seems like he would excel there as well.

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Not one to comment much on threads but this one is exceptional - your usage of data visualisations, background information and setting the scene tactically/philosophically is absolutely great.

 

Inspiring to say the least 😄

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On 27/01/2020 at 22:35, wesl said:

Could Aleñá play in Peña's role? Seems like he would excel there as well.

Definitely! However, in a dream world - I'd be able to have both of that type of player, whether that be Pena as an offensive AM or another player (a striker) as a deep ST. Alena could be the perfect engache though in five years when his legs are gone, provided I can have the goalscoring threat from the wings - this is what I love about this squad I'm building!

 

3 hours ago, Saethus said:

Not one to comment much on threads but this one is exceptional - your usage of data visualisations, background information and setting the scene tactically/philosophically is absolutely great.

 

Inspiring to say the least 😄

Many, many thanks! I love that people are interested in seeing my explanations, which, sometimes, seem to be better suited to a diagram. A picture painting a thousand words and all that!

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New skin

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I've had a very busy week but I spent yesterday evening doing something I've never done before - and that is fiddling with the skinning files. I am so incredibly inexperienced with this but really like what I've started to make. Firstly - I've taken the TCS skin and adapted the profile page but I have plans to work through a lot more before maybe even making my own skin for next year and beyond. Here are the main changes:

  • TCS player information - this is great and I love the pro's and con's
  • Resized top bar so that I can fit in an overview of career stats (without that stupid graphical issue where it shows extra lines for no apparent reason) - I so far have the basics but looking to edit that panel in order to fit in average rating and transfer information.
  • Completely resized all of the fonts - I play on 85% zoom but I've made them all smaller to fit a bit of extra info in.
  • Used the boxes to cover the attribute numbers as I had on the old skin
  • Removed goalkeeper rating from the info box as it's completely unnecessary.
  • Resized and added a background to the positional information
  • Removed the 'duties' and that stupid half-filled circle and changed the top roles to just 3 roles that a player is suitable to play in, removing the option to highlight attributes that are required as I can make that call myself. This is probably my favourite change as it all looks really good!
  • Changed the panel sizes so I can fit in the attribute analysis hexagon (now, no longer an octagon). I have dabbled with the criteria and names for each one and this is a work in progress but I like what I've done and I now know how to change it to have as many parts as necessary.
  • Removed a whole line of small panels as these don't fit my resolution - making more room to see season stats
  • Adapted the Form (last 20 matches) from the TCS skin to show long term form.

 

I have also changed the comparison screen so that it doesn't show attributes and the hexagon is mirrored to what is on the profile page and the player search screen also can't show attributes now. I have plenty more to do but I'm really enjoying this side -  making this show exactly what I want!

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August/September 2029

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An absolutely unbelievable start to the season - which is completely unexpected.

We started the season off in the most hipster way ever, a 4-1-4-1 AM against Valencia to keep tight and compact, not allowing their creative midfielders any space, and even Brian Pena put in a defensive shift. A fairly 'easy' run against Elche, Levante and Depor gave us seven points and, to be fair, any less than five would have been seen as a disappointment - even with our status as a newly promoted team. The away win at Depor flattered us but not as much as the home victory over Villarreal, who are a solid top half side these days. We put them to the sword with fast transitions from wing to wing which allowed Varela so much space against their offensive full backs. A good win over RCD Mallorca, a team who are probably of a similar level to us, has topped off a great time. We are probably one third of the way to our points target from about a sixth of our season. 

There will be tough times to come but our transition to the top flight has been sublime.

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Another landmark ticked off!

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Some research tells me that the second highest migrant population in Guadalajara is, in fact, Romanians (Moroccans are first) - so this link with Romanian top tier side Iasi was a sensible option. I've added the option whereby we may get Romanian youth candidates and I've added the top tier to come into play next summer so I can use the loan market and get ourselves a footing in the Romanian market.

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My scouts raved about this lad and, based on his personality and preferred foot - I couldn't turn him down. Bravo will join for €300k next summer but will probably be loaned out for a good time. He lacks the intelligence (making use of the hexagon already!) but is the perfectly physical full back I want. I am looking to also get a foothold in the Chilean market as there are several undervalued players there, such as the above.

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Loving the new skin. Would love to know what goes into each hexagon category if you're willing to share.

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3 hours ago, tyler16 said:

Loving the new skin. Would love to know what goes into each hexagon category if you're willing to share.

Of course - they are in their first draft state, as basically I've just played around and moved a few things about - I will properly cover these at some point. Also, I don't know the abbreviation FM uses for some of them so couldn't include them!

 

Physical

Strength

Agility

Balance

Stamina

Pace

Acceleration

 

Finishing

Finishing

Off the ball

Composure

 

On the ball

Technique

First touch

Dribbling

Passing

Creativity

Flair

 

Aerial

Jumping

Heading

 

Intelligence

Decisions

Teamwork

Anticipation

Bravery

Determination

Concentration

 

Ball Recovery

Tackling

Marking

Positioning

 

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Even now, typing those, shows me that some of them need to move!

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October/November 2029

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We continue to roll on, even with a poor month that saw us lose twice - although, to be fair, as I'd expect to have done. My only concern here is the lack of conviction that we showed against Valladolid, when we dominated play but were poor in the final third. Whilst I am not getting carried away, I have been looking at some predictions based upon our current form:

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We currently are scoring at just about 1.7 points per game and that, over the course of the season, would give us a total of 64 points. The orange line on the graph is the average points required to stay in the league over the last ten seasons - 32. With us sitting at over 20 points from just thirteen games, we could technically be moving past the drop line as early as gameweek 20 - a huge achievement for a newly promoted club.

Also, it is interesting to look at where 64 points would get us in the previous years - and, aside from the 2022/23 season, each end result would see us quality for Europe - an utterly unthinkable objective to have set myself when we came up.

A note - we haven't played Barca nor Real yet and Barca, who have won La Liga nine times in a row with an Mbappe and Kean front line still managed by once unknown Carlos Corberan, have smashed Sevilla 8-0, Atletico 5-0, Depor 5-0 and Getafe 6-1 - so I can presume I'll be taking 0 points per game from those fixtures!

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8 minutes ago, _Ben_ said:

Of course - they are in their first draft state, as basically I've just played around and moved a few things about - I will properly cover these at some point. Also, I don't know the abbreviation FM uses for some of them so couldn't include them!

Love it. Look forward to seeing how these evolve. I think the hexagon is a natural progression from attribute bars (which were a progression from attribute numbers)!

FWIW, I would probably rename finishing to "attacking" and create a separate category named "physicality" with strength, balance, bravery, and aggression. And then I would rename "physicals" as "athleticism."

Up to you of course, just my two cents!

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On 02/02/2020 at 21:32, tyler16 said:

Love it. Look forward to seeing how these evolve. I think the hexagon is a natural progression from attribute bars (which were a progression from attribute numbers)!

FWIW, I would probably rename finishing to "attacking" and create a separate category named "physicality" with strength, balance, bravery, and aggression. And then I would rename "physicals" as "athleticism."

Up to you of course, just my two cents!

Definitely - I've been, once again, pulled away from that area, and I'm looking at tactics again but will return to this and see what I can create. Thanks for the ideas, I agree with them!

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Tactical thoughts

(post #415!)

Once again thinking tactically and thinking about how we can set up to emulate the style of football I really want. The summer has seen a big shift, being in the big time means I have much more reign over who I can bring in and also over time who I can develop. 

Defensive shapes
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I really like the Half Back and how he fits in as a third centre back when needed but also is a little more aggressive than the BPDs. I have the option of playing with two inverted wing backs, moving to a 3-2-xxx formation when going forward with the full backs becoming central, two complete wing backs who provide much higher width up the pitch, along side the midfielders in a 3-4-xxx formation or a combination of the two. I have been using this season to gauge the ability of opposing full backs as to see whether I am leaving too much open but we seem to be moving quite well now and any deficiencies are player related and not tactical related.

Midfield shapes

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Playing a 4-6-0 means that 'midfield' is a little obscure of a team, but I don't really mean the pure attacking players here even though they all contribute to that phase of play. I have been utilising these two shapes for a long time now and adding Carles Alena as the RPM(s) has only added to the success. I like to use the Mez(s)/W(s) to overload one side of the pitch, focusing play at a weaker full back or a more offensive one and taking control of the spaces. When the opposition realise this or when my play is not strong enough to break down a solid player, I can switch this (part of the joy of having either footed wingers is that they don't need to change position to change role). In this shape, the T(a) is by far the furthest player forward but his role is one that starts deeper and moves, aggressively forward and onto the shoulder of the last defender and, with Brian Pena, often successfully exploiting the spaces between those defenders.

Attacking shapes

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This is where I want to go. As previously mentioned, Brian Pena 'starts deeper and moves, aggressively forward and onto the shoulder of the last defender' but can sometimes be marked out of the game - an anchor man or a BWM(d) seem to be particularly good at that. Therefore I need a plan B. And to be safe in a tough division, a plan C. My plan B would be to have the opposite of the Trequartista, a false 9 who starts on the shoulder of the last defender and drops deeper. I would, presumably, need an offensive role on the wing but that could come on a game-to-game basis, deciding on who I have available and who I am facing. The last one is more of a Total Football shape, with a Cruyff like figure, the engache, controlling the play with two aggressive inside forwards. The double mezzala behind them provides width (maybe with some combo of IWB/CWB)

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I guess now it's time to look at some team instructions and some players who can help me develop these shapes.

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Analysing the playing squad

And preparing for the next three transfer windows.

With promotion, we are really short of metrics to compare with and half of the team haven't been here long enough to compare with past performances to see who is under performing and looking, statistically, at areas I want to strengthen or refresh with youth. I am approaching the January transfer window in my save and, given our situation, have no targets lined up, no areas ready to research or no real idea of what I actually could be doing. Therefore, I'm going to do this.

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Firstly, a look at the minutes played across the whole squad will give me a breakdown of who is and who isn't playing:

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Pintado was brought in for backup, so that is not a worry but I need to see just how good Fernandes and Alena have been, to keep out both Berro and Puigmal and how effective Varela has been, as third highest minutes, to keep Lazaro on the side lines. The first choice defensive pairing of Marlon Lucas and Carlos Sabena have largely kept out Navarro and Angel, too. My star players - Benjamin, Pena and Puig, have, rightfully so, taken the lions share of the minutes. 

With no other La Liga players who I can compare to because a) we haven't been in this league long enough for me to know where we stand (why would I compare us, as potentially relegation candidates with Barca) and b) me not knowing the players yet (we are ten years in and AI development and newgens have taken somewhat of a hold), I can't start pouring out charts comparing my own stars to that elsewhere in the league as the comparison is largely unfair and we tend to play slightly differently from most other teams. Therefore, the likes of Puig, Pena and Alena, to some degree, have no comparison and will remain unchallenged members of the squad.

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Full Backs

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A quick overview tells me that, on AR alone, Navarro should be partnering Marlon Lucas and Sabena, a big buy in the summer, should be relegated to the bench, playing second fiddle with Angel. However, when looking at passes attempted per ninety minutes, all players are largely similar - as would be expected for mirrored roles and players who aren't hugely different on paper. Their outputs with the ball, however, would suggest that Marlon Luis is streets above the other three, as you'd probably suggest would be the case given his ability, and corresponding attributes, that make him a suitable candidate as an AMC too. Defensively though, Luis is good and not lagging behind the 'traditional' defenders in terms of interceptions and tackles, of which Angel struggles (although he is actually poor in that area and I've seen him caught out a few times, to be fair). I think that this is justifying my addition of Sabena, who leads in tackles and interceptions and, whilst not quite providing the offensive outlet, is a really save defensive option in the IWB(s) role.

Thoughts: Really strong but an upgrade for Angel in the coming years as he's going to let us down defensively. Not vitally important, yet.

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Central midfield

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Basically - I need a new central midfielder! Puigmal, whilst being a talisman in the second tier, has been found out here and the reason why he's got the lowest amount of minutes is pretty clear. Alena, as hoped and expected, has been top class - with 0.29 goals or assists per game from the RPM(s) role with aging legs. He's not had the highest pass completion, at 86%, but 5% of those passes have been key passes - meaning he's not making aimless passes. Paolo Fernandes' pass completion is the worst but in the more offensive Mezzala role and with a trait of trying killer balls often, I don't mind, and that is evidence in his 0.28 goals or assists per 90 scoring, too. Berro is a strange player, an aggressive Mez(s) but is completing lots of his passes, yet not getting into scoring areas - although, even when he does, his finishing is poor and has a stupid trait of trying to lob the keeper, which he won't unlearn.

Thoughts: Puigmal will need replacing in the summer and sourcing a young replacement for Berro will be necessary as Fernandes is now 31. Hopefully 31 year old Alena can keep going, even if his role is altered, but this will need to be watched as time progresses.

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Wingers

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Slightly condemning statistics again here - Lazaro has probably justified his lack of minutes with a very poor offensive outcome of no goals nor assists. He has the trait whereby he looks for the pass rather than the goal but that isn't hugely translated into chances created - although he lags way behind Andreas Pereira, who no longer has the legs to run. Varela, despite recording the highest average rating, has been surpassed by Septien in terms of his goal contributions per ninety and his key passes. Varela comes into his own though with 3.52 tackles per game, a 92% win ratio - that leaves him second in the whole squad. 

Thoughts: Lazaro looks out of his depth so maybe a loan deal would help (although his playing time sees him as a regular starter so it may end up being permanent) and Pereira, as expected, is the right type of player just maybe a little too old to really contribute. He'll need replacing by both a winger, as backup for Septien, and a striker, as an alternate role for Pena.

---

Some food for thought, definitely!

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Youth Intake

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Nothing better than multi-national youth intakes for me, and a Paraguayan is even better! Sadly, my manager was born in Asuncíon and this means he's probably not my in game son!

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Interesting as ever, clearly a lot of variety in your players :lol: 

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Interesting that Carlos Corberan is the Barca manager. In real life he is the Leeds U23 head coach and is apparently very well regarded at the club and seen as a future manager down the line.

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10 hours ago, LUFCspeni said:

Interesting that Carlos Corberan is the Barca manager. In real life he is the Leeds U23 head coach and is apparently very well regarded at the club and seen as a future manager down the line.

I know - good to have the opinion of a Leeds fan, too. Is the club ran like many would run a FM save, in terms of having all youth teams playing the same as the first team? In game - he prefers a flat 3-5-2, which is really hard to combat.

I also really like the gamble Barca took on him, in game. Valverde resigned in 2020 (to go on to manage Spurs, Lyon, Liverpool and now Real Madrid!) and they took a gamble on Corberan, who's only managerial experience was eight months at Malaga, where they finished second in the 2nd tier. Since then, he's had an outstanding 82% win ratio and has built a truly outstanding team. 

Shame that this kind of managerial trust isn't seen much elsewhere.

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15 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

I know - good to have the opinion of a Leeds fan, too. Is the club ran like many would run a FM save, in terms of having all youth teams playing the same as the first team? In game - he prefers a flat 3-5-2, which is really hard to combat.

I also really like the gamble Barca took on him, in game. Valverde resigned in 2020 (to go on to manage Spurs, Lyon, Liverpool and now Real Madrid!) and they took a gamble on Corberan, who's only managerial experience was eight months at Malaga, where they finished second in the 2nd tier. Since then, he's had an outstanding 82% win ratio and has built a truly outstanding team. 

Shame that this kind of managerial trust isn't seen much elsewhere.

From what I've seen from the U23's, they play a very Bielsa-esque way, yes. Not 100% sure on the formation he plays, but the style itself is very reminiscent of the first team.

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December 2029/January 2030

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The January Copa del Rey wins in January mask over what was a bad month in the league - although completely expected given games against two of the big three. Barca are an unstoppable force and both Mbappe and Kean have reached 20 goals apiece already and it looks unlikely they'll be stopped with only Atletico keeping up. Our January form mirrored the December form, where we took ten points - with maybe only things expected from Celta (now 19th) and Getafe (now 20th).

I have no reason to think that we should be aiming for anywhere near Europe this year and would happily take mid table, although, given the gape between us and Sevilla, I think that the top half is a solid aim, given the spread of big games in our remaining months (Sociedad and Barca in Feb, Valencia and Real Madrid in March and Atletico and Betis in April) meaning that it's unlikely we'll be able to put consistent runs together.

---

In other news, I've signed a new contract...

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February/March 2030

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Ouch. I knew we'd have tougher periods of time and this was very much it. A poor start to February, as always seems to be the case after a long January, ended with a good performance against Barca. We then capitulated at home to Valencia before making a good turn around against Getafe but, with no fixtures between that and the next challenge, away at Real, it's hard to get any momentum going. We gave a really good account of ourselves down the road in Madrid and picked up a point but that, again, wasn't enough to spur us on against Athletic. 

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Next month sees us play Sevilla, Atletic, Betis and Sociedad intertwined with some easier ties. It's imperative that our heads don't drop or we could well see a repeat of February in a much more fixture dense month. However, the youth intake is due any day soon and I love that!

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2030 Youth Intake

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What a good one it is! Two Paraguayans, Lorenzo Palacios and Alex Vilisanti lead the way in what should provide some players for depth over the next few years. In Vilisanti, I have a two footed, good personality, half back who is consistent and incredibly promising!

They'll go onto the tracker for next year.

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Profits

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We just about break even with match day income compared to wages so all of this is TV money. This is despite our wage bill sitting 41x less than Barca's and 1.86x less than the next nearest rival, Elche, at just £6.92m a year.

Edited by _Ben_

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Villasanti will need to fill in some gaps in his game but he looks he will develop into a great fit, with his great determination and all. Seems like Guadalajara is safe so maybe it's time to play the youngsters?

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April/May 2030

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We've stuttered our way to the end of the season - our bad form has coincided with some bad laptop management and has, as such, led to many crashes and many of these games played at least three times! Still - we've held on to a top half position, by the skin of our team and are the lowest ranked team to have a positive goal difference, losing the same amount of games as the teams in sixth and seventh. With three really strong teams in this league and one of the tightest title fights I've ever seen - it's safe to say that I am happy to once again be playing in this league next year - and that comes regardless of the strong start that we had.

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As a playing squad, it's hard to look past the low average ratings and the poor goals and assists column, but, when looking at the bigger picture - the fourth best defence in the league with only  31 conceded reminds me a lot more of Del Bosque's Spain rather than Pep's Barcelona but we have the foundations to move on and build bigger and better things going forward. At this stage, I'm very much looking at those twelve draws, seven of which were 0-0, as points gained rather than profligacy gong forward.

Here are the playing stats:

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As I said, I'm not overly concerned by the low numbers. We scored 36 times this year, in total, 33 times in the league and three more in a short cup run. No wonder my players aren't getting consistently high ratings as the forwards are scoring once every few games and lucky to create a key chance. That is partially down to opposition and partially down to our own approach - but there is a case for over-reacting here, and that is not what I want to do. When looking at the percentage of our total goals scored - our top contributors (goals and assists) look like this:

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Barcelona scored a crazy 113 league goals this season. If Brian Pena had contributed 42% of that amount, he'd had a total of 38 goals or assists to his name this season and would surely be in the running for a Ballon D'or or something crazy like that. Instead, he just about reached double figures in all competitions but recorded his worst league outlay to date. Does this make him a bad player? Of course not. Is it somewhat sentimental that my lower league hero got a chance in the top flight without me buying competition and, as such, is a somewhat naive decision? Yes, probably. So, our front three (and Samuel, who returned from loan in January) have done what they are supposed to - get involved in the goals, and they've been joined by the mightily impressive Marlon Lucas, the new midfielder-cum-full back who joined in the summer. 

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Is this the issue then? Are we not converting our chances? For comparison, league top scorer Moise Kean converted 36% of his shots per/90 and ended with 38 league goals this season. Our highest is Samuel, who, statistically, has really done well in the part of the season where we have struggled the most. It is Brian Pena, who's 10% conversion rate puts him way down the pecking order and, surprisingly, not my end of season wonder like he normally is.

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I think this largely explains why - he's been far more involved in the build up play and, if I could gather a heat map for his average positions across the whole season, would probably find him playing much deeper than ever before. It is also a signal that, with no Plan B that is any different to him (Septien can also deputise as a T(A) in that role), if that area of the pitch is covered - he just becomes a playmaker and not an all around goal scoring machine that he has once been.

It is worth noting that he is now rated at 2.5* (I tend not to care but this might be useful information) and the weakest member of my first team squad.

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I'll have a closer look at the rest of the squad over the summer but for now, my approach is going to be promoting youth as we look to consolidate for a few years and build a wage and transfer budget that will allow me to strengthen adequately.

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Edited by _Ben_

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Around Europe

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I've neglected this part of the game world for a little while now - being so caught up in the bubble of my own team and rarely focusing on what is going on elsewhere. Eleven years into the game hasn't seen a huge amount of changes - Man City and PSG not being in the biggest club competition in the world being the main one, along with the surprise relegation of Bayer Leverkusen and the fall of Juve, who haven't finished above fifth since 2023.

In Europe, there was triumphs for Barca (CL), Arsenal (EL) and West Ham (Europa Conference League).

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11 hours ago, kidthekid said:

Great first season in the La Liga

Thanks! It felt a bit deflating, at some points, given our strong start. But overall, with the players we have, I would say that we have overachieved hugely. Lots of work to be done over the next few years if we want to be challenging. The job now is to stockpile money and grow our reputation!

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B Team promotion

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I agreed the formation of this team six years back and they've just been promoted into the playable third tier for the first time. They are managed by a member of staff the board brought in, who likes Route One football, and are semi-pro and full, currently, of my cast-offs but the job is to help them cement themselves at this level so I can use this as a tool for player development without having to use the loan system.

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Youth Progress

Definitely something that fell by the wayside last year as I looked for experienced heads and first team players in order to retain our top tier status. As such, I hadn't updated my tracker:

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At the end of this year - we will have had 22 players that I have tracked through our youth development program (which, as of now, still only stands as setting individual training - I'm not at a point whereby I can sacrifice other things to have time to run all training and the like) with all but Angel, Benjamin, Francisco and Baena coming through our own academy. A weakness of this, I feel, is that I track their first year but then nothing happens following that. For example - Francisco made the second highest improvement score over his first year, but where is he now? Out on loan at a second tier team. Could I have done something extra? Almost certainly. Samuel came out of the academy year as the best, on paper, player. Did he do much until injuries meant I needed to recall him in January? No. Would I have done it if not? Probably not. I want to create something that works with the games playing time pathway feature.

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As for this year:

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Four fresh new faces in what is a pretty strong group of players (probably brought down by Miki Garcia but his good first touch, technique, decisions and balance make me want him to be good!). As a cohort, they have a good first touch, passing, technique, decisions and determination - which I'd like to think is just an extension of my own 'DNA.'

I'm not yet at a point whereby I will be designing youth schedules around these areas of development, as I mentioned, but I will ensure that progress is regularly checked and I use their Role and individual focus to see how they develop this year.

 

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2030/31 Transfer Dealings

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I'll start with our projections - as that indicates that we can afford the majority of talent that is floating around this game world. Not the elite, but that is understandable. We can shell out £30m for a player, should we need to, that could become a backbone of the team. However - finding that player is proving far more difficult. With £50m in the bank and £18m to spend of transfers, I've really not been able to use this warchest to strengthen my side as, quite frankly, the type of player I want is just not interested. We are still new to this top flight and the sticky second season is upon us and, given our relative quick rise up the leagues, players aren't willing to take a chance on us.

Therefore my signings, to this point, have been somewhat uninspiring:

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Francisco Bravo signs and is really good, yet my 3 non-EU player quota is filled and he, since he's a new signing, won't leave on loan. I'm stuck with him in the youth squad at the moment which convinced me to sign Toni Lato as backup and sell on Angel. Lato is significantly better, and, despite being 32, is hopefully good enough for the six months that is needed for Carlos Alberto to, hopefully, take Spanish citizenship and free up a slot to have Bravo as the rotational option with Marlon Lucas. Lato brings a wealth of experience to a young side and is a solid defensive option when needed. Oscar Dominguez came through the Brighton academy at the hands of Ryan Shawcross (this just doesn't sound right) and will join up with the B squad as I look to assess him. He's not particularly special but may be profitable in future. Lyndson is a player I've tracked for a while and due to his Spanish citizenship, joins with no issues about nationality. This is a type of move I don't really condone - a loan with no future fee, but his release clause is low enough should I want to make this permanent. He'll be a good backup option on the wings.

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The big gap. A forward.

I'm going to be a lot more fluid between the AM either as a SS(A) or T(A) and a ST as a F9(S) or even a T(A) this year as I look to gain a tactical advantage. I did a lot of looking at Brian Pena and, despite his poor season, can't find it in myself to sell him on, yet. But what I do need is another option as youth striker Antonio is not ready, yet. To this point - it has been impossible to find a player, with top flight experience, who has scored a reasonable amount of goals (10+ a season) who is willing to join. I might have been brave in bringing up a striker with no La Liga experience but I'm desperate not to fall into the stupid trap of going another season without an option.

Things are not looking promising right now, but, for us, the work isn't over yet.

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The elusive forward

My quest to bring in a forward is over, for now. He's not the proven top flight scorer with bags of experience that I may be wanted, but I am still really happy with the deal. Firstly, I had a list of non-negotiable things as well as a list of desired things, here they are:

Non-negotiable

  • Complies with EU nationality as I wouldn't have been able to register him. This takes out a huge chunk of players as, with our reputation as it is, we are very much a stepping stone for young, hungry players form South America rather than already established players in Europe. There are some dual-nationals out there but I couldn't find anything that fitted my needs, now.
  • Speaks Spanish. I've talked about 'the group' and I know that this is something Louis Van Gaal, and many other managers, hold in high regard. The club currently has two social groups - with the second made up of just Toni Lato, following his recent arrival. Therefore, I need a player who can quickly integrate, and as such, a language barrier is not appropriate.
  • Fulfil an Argentine-esque number 10. I've been reading, once again in Zonal Marking by Michael Cox, about how South American's, in the pibe role made a name for the number 10. My own time watching football has seen me love the likes of Ariel Ortega, Juan Riquelme, Pablo Aimar (as well as FM versions such as Nahuel Leiva) and, of course, Lionel Messi. The pibe is stereo-typically a clever, yet physically under-developed normally left footed player who can change the game with moments of absolute genius.
  • Also fulfil a Brazilian-esque number 9. Not from Zonal Marking, but from my love of all things Selecao, and, mainly Ronaldo. I've never watched a more complete forward than he in my lifetime. He was fast, skillful and a lethal finisher - just what I need to push this team on. Essentially, I'm after a 9.5, the ultimate combo of both.

Wants

  • A player who is versatile- able to play as an AM - either a SS(A) or a T(A) as well as a variety of forward roles, mainly a F9(S) or DLF(s) or even a CF(S).
  • Taller than the current crop of players, so I am able to utilise different styles of play should I need to. Tallness tends to come with physicality, which might help defend from the front.
  • Age - a player nearing or in his peak ideally as I am looking for someone who has scored at levels as close to our own as possible.

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A massive list. Far too many criteria to all be matched. I have a shortlist of players and, actually, I have signed all of the players from it - Francisco Bravo, Lyndson, Carlos Alberto and now Neyveson, my, hopefully, gap filler and potentially star player.

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Firstly - what can he do? He's as close to the 9.5 as I'm not going to get at this point- good passing, vision, first touch, a good long shot and good technically means he can dictate the game from a slightly withdrawn striker role but also an excellent finisher, really quick and agile and with good composure and off the ball, aiding his number 9 play. Additionally, he's got a great penalty, takes a good free-kick, and, whilst he won't be used, is also good at corners (he's one of my taller players so will be elsewhere).

He can play across the attacking three and as a striker and, strangely, looks like he's been asked to fill in at left back a couple of times, too. Being left footed not only fits my pibe role - it also works really well with how we set up. Both of my right sided wingers are more traditional wingers and will move aggressively towards the byline and, the space left inside is full with an on-rushing Mezzala. With a RPM in the MCL slot and Neyveson naturally drifting left onto his stronger foot - he'll create some nice build up play with my left wingers, Septien and Lyndson, who are both naturally far more creative.

Born in Brazil, he came through the Vitoria set up but was poached by Barcelona and came through their intake in 2027. A sole appearance for the first team led to a loan to Deportivo, in La Liga, at just 18 years old. He started nine times and came off the bench four times, scoring once and getting one player of the match - not a hugely poor return for a youngster in a team who amassed just 33 goals and stayed up on the last day of the season. He did enough to be named in their Best-XI for the 2028/29 season. It was that summer that I was alerted to him, as he won 3rd Place in the U19 European Championship Golden Boot - although Spain crashed out in the semi finals, on penalties, to victors England. I mentioned that I wanted a proven goalscorer, and 6 goals in 20 second tier games for sixth placed Barca B is hardly that, but I watched the lad played in all kinds of roles, from a DLP, to a winger to a poacher - hardly surprising that he didn't really get going.

Barca have allowed him to join on loan for this season but I have managed to sneak in an optional clause of £3.5m. This currently sits about 5x his market value right now but, for a lad with little experience at this level and one who will be getting first team football this season - I am hopeful that it is going to be an absolute bargain.

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Squad numbers

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Keeping the Argentine style of numbering from 1-11 with Marlon Lucas replacing Angel but with some added nostalgic numbers - Lyndson in the Real Madrid Beckham shirt and Neyveson in the Aston Villa Yorke shirt (at least, until he hopefully takes over from Pena).

My strongest first XI for the start of the season would probably look like this:

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Benjamin, Alberto and Ropero all have 3.5* current ability so can be rotated at will. We open up with a home tie against Elche so will need creativity a bit deeper and these to fulfil that. Pena can slot in on the wing with both Septien and Lyndson there to take over - but the sentiment is probably too strong to drop him straight off, plus I pay him a 'Star Player' wage! 

The bench options aren't looking too bad:

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I concluded that Puigmal was too weak last season but have been unable to replace him, especially as I lost Berro (I think I forgot to post about him) for his €3.5m minimum release clause. Bono steps up into the team as hopefully an able backup. Navarro is rated as highly as Sabena (3.5* CA) and can slot in at either RB or CB and is a good ball player too. Varela went off the ball last season and his squad status was reduced on the back of that - maybe some competition with Samuel will assist with that. Septien showed his quality and will really be pushing Pena if he doesn't perform on the left wing, with them sharing out appearances, I reckon. Pintado was excellent in not moaning about his small amount of game time but I'm hoping to phase him out this season if Villarasi, the Paraguayan from the youth team, makes a good impact.

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Excited to start the season!

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